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featured artist

Andreas Rutkauskas

Kelowna, British Columbia

Andreas Rutkauskas has been making photographs of landscapes for over twenty years, six of which have been dedicated to the aftermath and regeneration following wildfire. His past projects have focused on land that has been transformed through the implementation of a range of technologies, including surveillance along the Canada/U.S. border and cycles of industrialization and deindustrialization in Canada’s oil patch. He was the inaugural artist-in-residence at the Grantham Foundation for the Arts and the Environment (2020), a research fellow with the Canadian Photography Institute (2018), and was a finalist for the Gabriele Basilico International Prize in Architecture and Landscape (2016). His work is held in private and public collections, including the Canadian War Museum, and the Judith & Norman Alix Art Gallery. Andreas currently teaches photography at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus, on unceded Syilx territory.

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featured artwork

McDougall Creek Fire, from the series Silent Witnesses Inkjet print on Baryta, mounted on dibond 40x50” 2023


Nk’Mip Fire, from the series Silent Witnesses Inkjet print on Baryta, mounted on dibond 30" x 40” 2023


Underdown Creek Fire, from the series Silent Witnesses Inkjet print on Baryta, mounted on dibond 40x30” 2023


McDougall Creek Fire, from the series Silent Witnesses Inkjet print on Baryta, mounted on dibond 40x50” 2023

responding to SIGHTLINES

The Okanagan Valley, where I have resided since 2016, is an incredibly diverse ecoregion, including the forests typically associated with the PNW and valley bottoms of open Ponderosa pine and Douglas fir forest interspersed with shrub-steppe. My six years of research into fire began with a simple question: what does the aftermath of a wildfire look like? Originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba and having resided in Montréal for twelve years, fire on the land was a new and fascinating phenomenon to me as an artist using photography. I continue to make new discoveries and to be fascinated by fire’s power to sculpt the land.


Silent Witnesses marks a paradigm shift in my ongoing research into the aftermath and regeneration following wildfire. Whereas my earlier images of wildfire focused specifically on optimistic representations of renewal within fire-adapted ecosystems, my approach since May 2023 has relied on outdoor strobes and a digital medium format camera system to highlight individual trees or selected members of a community. My goal is to create contrast between what has been lost, what has changed and what is returning, and to produce these contrasts within a single frame. While working on this project in the Okanagan Valley, the city I currently call home went through a massive firestorm. My most recent images depict literal sightlines that have opened up in the wake of the McDougall Creek wildfire. A once scruffy Douglas fir and lodgepole pine ridge crest to the west of the city now provides abundant views and a striking example of how close this fire, which claimed nearly 200 homes, came to engulfing thousands more properties.

more from Andreas' perspective

On August 17, 2023 the McDougall Creek wildfire tore through communities along the Western shore of Okanagan Lake, including the City of West Kelowna. Andreas watched its progress from the other side of the lake.

In the days following the firestorm, thick smoke clouded the valley. People were unable to assess the damage or determine an accurate fire perimeter and tourism was curtailed in the Central Okanagan.

In 2003, the Okanagan Mountain Park fire burned over two hundred homes on the outskirts of the City of Kelowna. As the land continues to undergo transformation, Andreas  documents the sightlines between this earlier fire and the 2023  firestorm.

From thousands of exposures, Andreas narrowed down selections of his Silent Witnesses series to just under one hundred images. Postcard-sized test prints grow to a larger scale as he examines critical focus in preparation for the production of full-sized gallery prints.


Andreas' work on view in his exhibition Éveil at the Musée regional de Rimouski, Québec. Oct. 6, 2023 – Feb. 4, 2024. 

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